More about an engaged, participating audience…following up on my last post.
I exchanged some email with Tom Wolf, the consultant whose firm’s newsletter I’d happily quoted. In this exchange, he told me a fine story involving Boris Goldovsky, whom I’d known of as an opera personage (host of the Met Opera’s old radio intermission feature, Opera Quiz, founder of the opera training program at Tanglewood).
I hadn’t known that Goldovsky was Tom’s uncle, or that he’d been a pianist and conductor. Or that, as a musician of the old school, he’d have reacted ss Tom describes. Or, for that matter, that Tom himself doesn’t like a passive audience.
HEre’s his story (I’m quoting his email with his permission):
As I got older, I found concert “manners” totally off-putting and still do. I remember going to a concert when my pianist brother, the late Andrew Wolf, was playing the Schumann piano quintet which, as you know, has a barn burner of a first movement. When the first movement ended, there was silence in the hall and my uncle, Boris Goldovsky, who had played the piece hundreds of times said to me, “These idiots. The musicians play like Gods and the idiot audience sits and does nothing. Their silence is a crime.”
Thanks for this, Tom!
I wouldn’t myself blame the audience. The people in it are only doing what they’ve been taught to do. To show reverence for the music, by keeping quiet till the end of the piece. A concept that would have been utterly foreign to Mozart or Verdi or Brahms.
So if anyone’s to blame, it’s the classical music police, the arbiters of classical music decorum who believe in these rules, and still sometimes try to enforce them.